Sunday, April 12, 2009

E2 - The Velvet Web

Having set up the scenario in Episode One, the quest for The Keys of Marinus gets underway in Episode 2, The Velvet Web. And it's this episode that really displays the faults of the story as a whole.

In this installment, the TARDIS crew arrive, are welcomed with open arms by the natives, one of the crew (in this case, Barbara) gets suspicious and seeks to find out more about the regime, gets caught, escapes, finds the answer, helps topple the regime, and everybody goes home happy. That sounds like your average four-part Doctor Who story, but this all happens in one episode! There is no hope for a script to properly develop the characters, the setting, the plot (some might consider that last one to be of at least mild importance), and so forth, and it's painfully obvious that this episode hasn't had the time to do that.

And then there's the budget. The Brains of Morphoton are not some of the best creatures in the programme's history, but they're "control room" is even worse, as the "walls" in the room are simply black drapes. There was nothing left in the tickle trunk for something as simple as walls! This is a testament, though, to how close to the line that first production team pushed things, even if it meant missing the mark the odd time. (We'll talk more about that in Season 2...)

At the end of the episode, another event occurs that would be quite foreign to New Series viewers. William Hartnell was slated to go on a two-week holiday after this episode, which meant The Doctor actually being written out of Episodes 3 and 4 of the story. Such a thing would have been almost unheard of today (until the "Doctor-lite" episodes cam along), but it was something that a programme that pumped out 40+ episodes a season had to do to keep its actors happy.


James said...

At the beginning of this undertaking I thought my main issue would be with stories dragging on for too long and yet with the Velvet Web the opposite is actually the case. With the city of Morphoton we have an interesting set up, which is just brought to an abrupt end with Barbara unconvincingly smashing the jars in which the brains who rule the city live. If I had been the production team I would have been tempted to get Terry Nation to write this as a seperate story. They could have done an initial episode showing the city from their hypnotised perspective and then the later ones on the cheap showing what the run down city really looks like. The episode wasnt too bad but could have been much better.

Rog said...

This was one of my favorite episode of The Keys of Marinus, actually. It's unusual that so much happens in one episode of Doctor Who (well, it used to be unusual, mind you) and it helps give the story an added push. Add to that the fact that, again, you really have no idea what's going to happen next in this Twilight Zone of an episode. Loved it.

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